The RANT: So it's about 1993 or so and this guy named Trip Hawkins has a dream. The last American company that made a game console of any significance was Atari ten years before. He wants the USA to be number one in the game console market again. The competition is fierce, with Nintendo and Sega firmly entrenched in the market with millions of 16 bit machines. So he forms a company called 3DO, gets all kinds of moola from Panasonic, Goldstar, and other companies, and goes for the gold. He releases the first 32 bit console that didn't suck.
Well, maybe it did suck a little bit. While it was capable of outperforming the 16 bit machines in every way possible the 3DO suffered from very poor game design from the start. Most of the early games were shallow shooters or full motion video monstrosities. Plus the fact that the 3DO debuted with a $799 price tag didn't help much. Even a Neo Geo didn't cost that much and it's games were cooler. The controller was a 5 button controller when 6 buttons was already the standard, plus it sucked ass. Games like Way of the Warrior were pretty much unplayable with it (but become easier to control with a third party controller, most are which really hard to find nowadays.) Also there seemed to be some kind of fanatical fan boy base of 3DO nerds that would send oodles of hate mail whenever a video game magazine gave a 3DO title a bad review so eventually the magazines stopped reviewing 3DO games altogether. In the days before the internet those game magazines were the main source of info, and any company that didn't have a positive outlook from Electronic Gaming Monthly or Gamepro didn't last very long.
Also 3DO took the licensing approach with it's consoles, which probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Sell out the license for the console and thus shift the manufacturing cost to other companies, you can't lose, right? Wrong.That strategy might work fine with VHS and DVD players, but not with game consoles. Panasonic, Goldstar, and Sanyo all released different consoles with different designs (and to a degree, different capabilities, like memory cards, expansion modules, etc) but soon it became clear that the different companies were competing with each other for sales. Not a good idea when your best competitor is yourself. Soon the Goldstar, Panasonic, and Sanyo models disappeared. Trip must've seen this problem because soon the only 3DO model available was the FZ-10, a cheaper model designed to cut costs and make the machine more attractive to the 16 bit crowd.
Well, it worked, sort of. Also by this time some decent games like Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo and Samurai Showdown finally started to appear and sales picked up. 3DO probably could have survived a bit longer if they would have kept getting some more decent games, but by 1995 the debut of the Saturn and Playstation totally overshadowed the 3DO. Trip tried to keep it going with a promised M2 upgrade that got sold to Mitimusha for like $100 million dollars, who then decided not to enter the console market with the technology. Who knows why. Within a year 3DO was history, and today hangs on as a software developer for the next gen consoles and computer market.
The GOOD: So why should you buy a 3DO? Well, some of the games are actually pretty good, like SSF2Turbo, Star Control 2, Samurai Showdown, Po'ed, Space Hulk, and Killing Time being my favorites. Basically the later in the machine's life span the game was released the better it is. The machine has very good full motion capabilities. There's a lot of import Japanese games that are really good and are worth playing. Most 3DO stuff is pretty cheap as well, and also development units and software isn't hard to find. There's even a "3DO Blaster Card" that fits in your computer that lets you play and to some degree develop 3DO games.
THE BAD: A lot of the early games suck log. Lot's of soft core full motion garbage too. If it's gonna be an adult title, at least show some titties.
THE UGLY: The 3DO version of Doom was probably the worst version of Doom ever made. Moved at like 9 frames per second. Thing is other first person shooters with comparable graphics look fine on the 3DO. Sad.